Chapter 3: Developing Your Research Question

A.    Checklist for Question Generation

1.    Using one to two-word answers, think through:

  • your topic
  • the context for your research
  • what you want to achieve
  • the nature of your question - who, what, where, when, why, how
  • any potential relationships you want to explore

2.    Using the answers from step 1, and starting with the nature of the question, string together one or more research questions

3.    If you have more than one question, decide on the main question based on interests, practicalities and advice

4.    Narrow and clarify until your question is as concise and well-articulated as possible  

B.    Checklist for Characteristics of ‘Good’ Questions

1.    Is the question right for me?

  • Will the question hold my interest?
  • Can I manage my personal subjectivities?

2.    Is the question right for the field?

  • Will the findings be considered significant?
  • Will it make a contribution to knowledge?
  • Does it have the ability to affect change?

3.    Is the question well-articulated?

  • Are the terms well-defined?
  • Are there any unchecked assumptions?

4.    Is the question doable?

  • Can information be collected in an attempt to answer the question?
  • Do I have the skills and expertise necessary to access this information? If not, can the skills be developed?
  • Will I be able to get it all done within the time constraints?
  • Are costs likely to exceed my budget?
  • Are there any potential ethics problems?

5.    Does the question get the tick of approval from those in the know?

  • Does my academic supervisor think I am on the right track?
  • Do experts think my question is relevant/doable?